Top 10 Silver-producing Countries (Updated 2023)

Silver Investing
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The most recent data from the US Geological Survey shows that Mexico was the top silver-producing country in 2022.

There are many factors to consider when investing in silver-focused stocks, including the management team, the silver price and which companies are operating in the top silver-producing countries.

Knowing the top silver-producing countries can help investors understand the logic behind the exploration and development decisions that companies make. For example, high silver production in a particular country might indicate mining-friendly laws or high-grade deposits.

In 2022, Mexico was once again the world’s leading silver-producing country. Global silver production increased marginally for the period, rising to 26,000 metric tons (MT) due to a return to production in key countries following shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is an overview of the top silver-producing countries of 2022. Silver production stats are based on the latest data from the US Geological Survey.

1. Mexico

Mine production: 6,300 MT

Mexico continues to rank as the world’s largest pure silver producer. Its output in 2022 increased slightly by 190 MT over the previous year. Mexico is home to Fresnillo (LSE:FRES,OTC Pink:FNLPF), the largest silver company in the world. Fresnillo’s silver production in 2022 was up 1.2 percent compared to the previous year.

The state of Zacatecas hosts two of the world’s largest silver mines. One is Fresnillo’s Zacatecas silver mine, and the other is Newmont’s (TSX:NGT,NYSE:NEM) Penasquito polymetallic mine, which is Mexico’s largest open-pit mine.

2. China

Mine production: 3,600 MT

Second on this top silver-producing countries list is China. The Silver Institute attributes a large part of China’s rise within the bullion market in recent years to the country’s development of its mining industry, as the majority of Chinese silver production originates as a by-product of other metals.

Many companies in China are privately owned, but Silvercorp Metals (TSX:SVM,NYSEAMERICAN:SVM) bills itself as the country’s largest primary silver producer. It has a portfolio of producing silver-lead-zinc mines in China, including the multi-mine Ying district and the GC mine.

3. Peru

Mine production: 3,100 MT

Peru ranked third in silver production in 2022 by putting out 3,100 MT in silver supply, down from 3,310 MT in 2021. Peru features the world’s largest-known silver reserves, with an impressive 98,000 MT of silver. The country has a massive amount of untapped silver potential that could allow it to challenge Mexico for the top spot in the future.

Much of Peru’s physical silver production comes from the Antamina mine, a joint venture between BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP), Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF), Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.A,TSX:TECK.B,NYSE:TECK) and Mitsubishi (OTC Pink:MSBHF,TSE:8058). Although a prolific producer of silver bullion, Antamina is primarily a copper mine with silver produced as a by-product.

Fortuna Silver Mines (TSX:FVI,NYSE:FSM) is rapidly growing its silver production with two operating mines on the market, one of which is in Peru. Its Caylloma mine produced more than 1.14 million ounces of silver in 2022.

4. Chile

Mine production: 1,600 MT

Chile produced nearly the same amount of silver in 2022 as it did the year prior. The country’s reserves are an estimated 26,000 MT.

Most of the silver production in Chile is a by-product of copper and gold production. State-owned Codelco, one of the world’s top copper producers, is also one of the world’s top silver-producing companies.

5. Australia

Mine production: 1,400 MT

In 2022, Australia ranked in fifth place for global silver output. Mines in Australia churned out 1,400 MT of silver in 2022, a slight increase from 1,360 MT in 2021. Silver mining has a rich history in Australia, and BHP began there as a silver operation in the 1920s.

Today, South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF) runs Queensland's Cannington mine, which produces more silver than any other mine in the country. The company claims Cannington is one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost silver producers.

6. Poland

Mine production: 1,300 MT

Poland's 2022 silver production of 1,300 MT was on par with the previous year. The country could expand its silver production further as it has 65,000 MT of silver reserves.

Poland-based KGHM Polska Miedz (WSE:KGH) is consistently one of the world’s top silver-producing companies, according to the Silver Institute.

6. Bolivia

Mine production: 1,300 MT

Bolivia had the same output as Poland in 2022, a slight uptick from its silver production of 1,290 MT in 2021. There is room for its silver industry to expand as the country has reported reserves of 22,000 MT.

Bolivia is home to several silver mines, particularly in its Potosi region. The San Cristobal mine is operated by Sumitomo (OTC Pink:SSUMF,TSE:8053), and Pan American Silver (TSX:PAAS,NASDAQ:PAAS) operates the San Vicente underground silver-zinc mine.

8. Russia

Mine production: 1,200 MT

Russia’s silver output decreased by 120 MT in 2022. The country’s silver reserves stand at 45,000 MT, and its largest silver producer is Polymetal International (LSE:POLY,OTC Pink:POYYF). Polymetal dominates silver production in Russia and operates seven gold and silver mines in the country.

Additionally, the smaller-scale Silver Bear Resources (TSX:SBR) produced the first silver at its Mangazeisky project in Russia in 2019. Mangazeisky includes the high-grade Vertikalny deposit, which the company says is “amongst the highest-grade silver deposits in the world.”

9. United States

Mine production 1,100 MT

The United States' silver output in 2022 came in at 1,100 MT, up by 80 MT over the previous year. Mining took place at four primary silver operations and as a by-product at 31 base and precious metals mines. The country’s two top silver-producing states are Alaska and Nevada, and silver reserves in the US stand at 23,000 MT.

The largest US-based primary silver producer is Coeur Mining (NYSE:CDE). Coeur’s US projects are not silver focused, but the company does operate silver mines in South America and Australia. The US mine with the highest silver output is Barrick Gold's (TSX:ABX,NYSE:GOLD) Cortez mine, which is primarily gold.

10. Argentina

Mine production 840 MT

Argentina replaced Kazakhstan as a top 10 silver producer in 2018, and in 2022 it was the 10th largest silver producer in the world. Its 2022 silver output was up more than 100 MT compared to the previous year's 720 MT.

In 2018, Yamana Gold (TSX:YRI,NYSE:AUY) began commercial production at Cerro Moro, a high-grade gold-silver mine in the country. The company's overall 2022 production benefited from strong output at Cerro Moro due to an increase in mill feed coming from higher-grade underground ore and stable throughput. The company is planning higher production in the future as it builds its mineral resource inventory at Cerro Moro.

Argentina is also home to the Chinchillas and Pirquitas mines, owned by SSR Mining (TSX:SSRM,NASDAQ:SSRM).

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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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